More than 795,000 people suffer from stroke in the U.S. each year, but up to 50% of all strokes are preventable, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It’s the fifth leading cause of death and a major cause for serious disability in America, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is many of the risk factors can be treated, modified or controlled.
Dr. Peter Panagos, M.D., FACEP, the director of Neurovascular Emergencies and professor of emergency medicine and neurology at Washington University in St. Louis, says that strokes can be far more devastating than heart attacks because they can cause long term, irreversible damage.
“Everyone is at risk of having a stroke, even perinatal infants,” Panagos tells Newsmax. “But the majority of them occur in people over the age of 60.”
Here are seven ways to help prevent a stroke:
- Lower blood pressure. Aim for 120/80 by reducing the salt in your diet and eating more fruits and vegetables. Hypertension doubles and even quadruples your risk of stroke, according to Harvard Health.
- Exercise more. While regular exercise can help lower blood pressure, it is also a great tool for preventing strokes on its own. Harvard Health experts recommend walking around the neighborhood at least five days a week while practicing social distancing.
- Reduce stress. Panagos says research has identified emotional stress as a risk factor for ischemic stroke. “The mechanism is likely due to the increasing stress hormones released into the bloodstream and elevated blood pressure. Jobs with high demand and low control such as a healthcare worker or waitress were associated with a 22% increased risk of stroke according to a recent study,” says the expert. Try meditation, tai chi or yoga to reduce stress.
- Take saunas. Dr. Mehmet Oz, the prominent talk show host and a noted cardiologist, reports that a recent Finnish study found that taking two or three saunas weekly reduces your risk of having a stroke. The researchers speculate that it may be due to the sauna’s ability to lower blood pressure and also stimulate your immune system. Check with your doctor before hopping into the heat if you’ve had a heart attack or have unstable angina, notes Oz.
- Try supplements. Noted cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, author of “Reverse Heart Disease Now,” tells Newsmax that he heartily recommends CoQ10 (100 to 200 mg. daily), magnesium (400 to 800 mg. daily) and L-carnitine (1 to 2 grams daily) to help support stroke prevention.
- Lose weight. Obesity, along with its health impact on the body, raises your odds of having a stroke say the Harvard experts. Try to limit your intake to 1,500 to 2,000 calories daily.
- Quit smoking. Your doctor can help you find the best way to stop. There are many aids to help you quit smoking, including patches, counseling and medicine.
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